South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says he will not appear on Thursday before the Hawks, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation of the South African Police Service (SAPS) as summoned by the unit.
Gordhan confirmed Wednesday that he had received a summons from the unit, but added that he had taken legal advice not to present himself.
Gordhan was expected to receive a formal warning, usually issued before a person is charged. He said his decision followed an assurance from the head of the Hawks that he is not a suspect in the matter. He has committed to assist the Hawks in its investigation.
In a statement released earlier on Wednesday, Gordhan said: “I am advised that I am under no legal obligation to present myself to the Hawks as directed in their letter. I have decided not to do so for the following considerations: I was advised in no uncertain terms by the Head of the Hawks, General (Berning) Ntlemeza, in his letter of 20 May 2016, in response to my attorney’s enquiry, that I am not a suspect in the Hawks’ investigation.
“I have provided a comprehensive account of matters which the Hawks had raised in their 27 questions on 18 May 2016. I therefore, do not intend to present myself for a warning statement for many considerations, both legal and given my other commitments. I remain committed to assist the Hawks in any bona fide investigation as stated in my statement.”
On Tuesday, Gordhan was summoned to report to the Hawks to answer outstanding questions regarding a so-called “rogue unit” at South African Revenue Services (SARS).
According to a letter, the Hawks have completed investigations, which started earlier in 2016 into charges that Gordhan might have been involved in a unit which had allegedly spied on politicians, including President Jacob Zuma.
Gordhan had previously answered a list of questions through his legal representative. It has also emerged that Gordhan is not only facing possible arrest by the Hawks, but that the SARS has also launched a forensic probe into deals concluded during his tenure as SARS Commissioner.
Several former SARS officials have also been summoned to a meeting with the Hawks on Thursday.
Some reports say there is a power struggle between Gordhan and the Presidency over the financial situation at State-owned enterprises such as South African Airways (SAA).
Economists have expressed concern about the way Gordhan’s case is being managed. The markets reacted negatively, with the Rand plunging to three-week lows against the US dollar after the Hawks summoned Gordhan.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK